Why are Hispanic Americans one big happy family?

Hispanic immigrants to the United States often think of themselves first as nationals of a particular country, Mexico, Cuba, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador.

Their U.S. born children or grandchildren may become so assimilated to Anglo culture that they think of themselves as Americans rather than Hispanic Americans.

There is considerable discord between Hispanic American communities. Some of it is has a racial element.

White Cuban Americans in Miami may resent being lumped together with mulatto Puerto Ricans or mestizo Mexican Americans. Some of it stems from competition for the same jobs and opportunities.

Puerto Ricans who have fought hard for economic and political position in New York may resent Dominicans, who they see as interlopers, or intruders. Dominicans, in turn, may see Puerto Ricans as clannish people blocking them from success.

Even so, Hispanic Americans are increasingly conscious of the need to band together on social and political issues that affect them all, such as racism and immigration policy.

And they share enough features in common, the Spanish language; widespread Catholic faith; beliefs about the value of family, that they are usually glad to meet a fellow Latino, from whatever country.

During the 1988 presidential election, Republican Latino politician Gaddi Vasquez commented on Democrat Michael Dukakis, the losing candidate: “The Democratic candidate may speak Spanish, but he doesn’t speak our language.” Many, though not all, Hispanic Americans felt the liberal Dukakis was out of touch with their concerns.

John Leguizamo, who became a movie actor after writing and starring in such one-man stage shows as Mambo Mouth, is a mix of Colombian and Puerto Rican. He continued his solo stage work with Freak.